Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family

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To celebrate Oregon's 150th birthday, the Oregon Library Association has chosen one book for all Oregonians to read: Stubborn Twig. Lauren Kessler's award-winning book, the selection for the statewide Oregon Reads program, is a classic story of immigrants making their way in a new land. It is a living work of social history that rings with the power of truth and the drama of fiction, a moving saga about the challenges of becoming an American.

Masuo Yasui traveled from Japan across the other Oregon Trail-the one that spanned the Pacific Ocean-in 1903. Like most immigrants, he came with big dreams and empty pockets. Working on the railroads, in a cannery, and as a houseboy before settling in Hood River, Oregon, he opened a store, raised a large family, and became one of the area's most successful orchardists.

As Masuo broke the race barrier in the local business community, his American-born children broke it in school, scouts, and sports, excelling in most everything they tried. For the Yasuis' first-born son, the constraints and contradictions of being both Japanese and American led to tragedy. But his seven brothers and sisters prevailed, becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, and farmers. It was a classic tale of the American dream come true-until December 7, 1941, changed their lives forever.

The Yasuis were among the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry along the West Coast who were forced from their homes and sent to vast inland internment camps. Masuo was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for the rest of the war; his family was shamed and broken. Yet the Yasuis endured, as succeeding generations took up the challenge of finding their identity as Americans. Stubborn Twig istheir story-a story at once tragic and triumphant, one that bears eloquent witness to both the promise and the peril of America.

In 1903, Masuo Yasui came to America and eventually became a successful orchardist and father of eight children. But the "relocation" of Japanese Americans during World War II caused Yasui to take his own life. The Yasui family opened its records and memories to Lauren Kessler, who writes a social history that rings with truth and drama. Photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kessler portrays a Japanese American family from the early 1900s to WWII internment camps and after. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870714177
  • Publisher: Oregon State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/12/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 308
  • Sales rank: 620,096
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauren Kessler
Lauren Kessler is the author of nine books, among them Stubborn Twig, which received the Frances Fuller Victor Award for the year's best work of literary nonfiction. She directs the grad-uate program in literary nonfiction at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where she lives with her husband and three children.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Table of Contents

Foreword   Governor Theodore R. Kulongski     ix
Preface     xiii
Acknowledgments     xvi
Issei: The First Generation
Spacious Dreams     3
Paradise     19
Roots Sunk Deep     35
The Yellow Scourge     53
Mat Yasui, Cottage Industry     67
Paradise Lost     89
Nisei: The Second Generation
A Shadow Across the Canvas     109
The Overachievers     137
Oriental Jailbird     153
A Viper Is a Viper     175
Behind Barbed Wire     189
Homecoming     211
Two Hundred Percent American     227
Sansei: The Third Generation
Willow Flat     247
The Past Is Prologue     263
Interview with Homer Yasui     279
Reading Group Questions     285
Sources     287
Index     299
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Excellent historical novel.

    This book is well-researched, interesting, and educational. It is something everyone should read to get a better understanding of American history.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic book!

    I first heard the book on MP3 through the library and was so impressed, I had to buy it in print. Astonishing historical account for Oregon residents. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in multi-cultural interests.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    Excellent - Read it!!

    Well done. I liked the author's following of one family. One family in the Hood River Valley. Doing so allowed an intimate look at the functioning of a multi-generational group its challenges and triumphs. My book club read this and it brought forward interesting conversations. The persons in my book club were mostly in grade school during WWII so have memories of the internment of the Japanese, memories of Asian children in the schools, memories of friendships changed forever as a result of the internments. One woman picked berries for Chop when she was a kid. In conclusion, this book is excellent on many levels.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Thought provoking

    I really enjoyed this book. History was my major in college, so I am always drawn to these kinds of books. I also live in the Portland OR area, so it's doubly interesting to read. The subject matter is something you don't often study in school unless you take a class that is very focused on this time. It's eye-opening to know how people of Japanese ancestry were treated. I think it's also very good to know what did happen so that we can avoid such things in the future, especially during our current time with suspicion of people of Middle Eastern ancestry. This book is written more like a history book than a novel. It tells you the facts.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    Well Written

    A very well written book. Author spent a lot of time in research, interviewing all involved. Anyone who is interested in the internment camps and families who lived through this era of poor government judgment would like this reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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